2.5m and rising - the 'sick' workforce
According to the ONS, sickness absence has grown significantly in the last 3 years. Around 2.5million people are now on long term sick leave.
There are many conditions mentioned in the report with mental health and nervous conditions seeing an increase of 22%.
In 2017 the Stevenson Farmer report put the cost of poor mental health to the wider economy at £99bn/yr. The inference is that this figure is only getting bigger as more and more people struggle with poor mental health conditions.
Whilst it might be wrong to conclude that WFH has contributed significantly to the increase in both mental and physical conditions, I have always felt that for many, working from home was a slippery slope. Without social contact and interaction; poor working conditions and a lack of suitable work stations (ie, working off a laptop in bed); inability to switch off from work; and other challenges like a lack of support and daily relationship building with colleagues, the toll on people's physical and mental wellbeing has been significant.
The challenge is now becoming more complex and multifaceted, but there are still things leaders can do to help.
I still believe prevention is a key to helping crack the challenge of poor mental health at work. If leaders understand how they can impact the outcomes of this challenge, then the road to recovery is a shorter one.